The Kane County Cougars got a little big-league help for the second night in a row.
But in the end, it was some old standbys who lifted them into the second round of the Midwest League playoffs.
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Cubs scouting reportCubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field
TV: WGN Friday and Sunday; Comcast SportsNet Saturday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2) vs. Vance Worley (6-4) Friday at 1:20 p.m.; Felix Doubront (1-0) vs. Francisco Liriano (3-10) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Travis Wood (8-11) vs. Gerrit Cole (7-5) Sunday at 1:20 p.m.
At a glance: The Pirates (71-68) are battling to make the postseason for a second straight year. They entered Thursday 2 games out of a wild-card spot. The Pirates went into Thursday ranked first in the NL in on-base percentage (. 328) and third in batting average (.256) and slugging (.397). They're led by superstar Andrew McCutchen, who has a line of .303/.396/.530 with 21 homers, 72 RBI and 141 hits. Former Cubs farmhand Josh Harrison leads the team in batting (.310). With their recent power surge, the Cubs moved up to second in the NL in home runs. The Pirates and Cubs ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, in team ERA. The Cubs are finishing a stretch of 13 straight games against NL Central teams.
Next: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Monday-Wednesday
-- Bruce Miles
Mike Olt, who is scheduled to be called up to the major leagues by the Cubs Friday, homered for the second night in a row Thursday. His 2-run blast to left-center field in the eighth inning brought the Cougars to a 3-3 tie with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Jeimer Candelario's single to center field with the bases loaded scored Trey Martin with the winning run as the Cougars won 4-3 in 13 innings.
The Cougars opened the scoring in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Chesny Young and Jeimer Candelario. But starting pitcher Duane Underwood allowed 3 runs in the fourth, and the game stood at 3-1 until Olt's home run.
Kane County got stellar work from its bullpen after that, Michael Heesch, James Pugliese, Jasvir Rakkar and Francisco Carrillo shutting down the Timber Rattlers.
The Cougars looked poised to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but a failed suicide squeeze bunt with the bases loaded all but ended that threat. They left the bases loaded to end the bottom of the 12th
But the Cougars didn't get rattled, either by Wisconsin's early runs or the late-inning developments.
"They've been extremely consistent," manager Mark Johnson said before the game. Johnson is the Midwest League manager of the year. "They've been extremely consistent all year. To be low-A, extremely professional about the way they go about their business, the quality of work they do on a daily basis. They never take days off.
"It's been a pleasure to watch. It's a pleasure to coach guys like that who come in every day and want your help and want to get better and have the aptitude to get better."
Olt was on a rehab assignment from Class AAA Iowa, where he injured his hamstring late in the season. The Timber Rattlers are a farm club of the Milwaukee Brewers, and media tweets from the Milwaukee media indicated the Brewers weren't happy that Olt was rehabbing with the Cubs' Class A Midwest League affiliate.
Realistically, there wasn't much the Cubs could do. Iowa's season is over, and it would not have been practice to send him to Daytona to rehab. The Cubs hooked up with the Cougars before last season, in part because the Chicago-area location allows them to rehab players close to home.
Game 1 was played Wednesday night in Appleton, Wisconsin. Olt said he heard more grief from the Timber Rattlers' fans than from any players. Johnson just shrugged off the notion there should be any fuss.
"Can't hurt," he said of Olt's presence. "It's just like anything else this year. We've had a lot of movement, things that have happened. We're the type of team that goes with the flow, and whatever happens, happens. We're going to deal with it. Somebody's going to step up, and somebody's going to take on that role and take on whatever needs to happen in a game to try to win, to help us win."